About the School of General Studies

Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) is the undergraduate college specifically designed for students pursuing a nontraditional path to a rigorous, traditional, Ivy League education, including students who have had a break of a year or more in their educations and those enrolled in one of our innovative dual degree programs. Most GS students have, for personal or professional reasons, interrupted their education, never attended college, or are only able to attend part time.

Whether you've taken time off for personal reasons, parenthood, travel, or your career, the School of General Studies—Columbia University’s college for returning and nontraditional students—makes it possible for you to complete your degree at one of the finest institutions in the country. In fact, Columbia is the only Ivy League university with a freestanding college in which nontraditional students are fully integrated into the undergraduate curriculum.

Because the average age of GS students is 26, they usually have 8 to 10 more years of experience in life than traditional college students. That means that diversity at Columbia is not only measured by ethnicity and gender, but also by experience and maturity—a maturity we find leads to great academic success. At GS, you'll join a community of students who after graduation go on to pursue advanced degrees and lead stimulating professional lives.


Our mission is clear: to attract, educate, and support students who are nontraditional or following a nontraditional educational path, and who possess exceptional academic potential and the ability to succeed within the challenging intellectual environment that is Columbia University.


  • To be known worldwide as the premier and most innovative college for exceptional nontraditional students and students following a nontraditional educational path

  • To meet the full financial needs of our diverse student body and expand our social justice mission


Lux in Tenebris Lucet—"The light that shines in the darkness"


  • Work closely within Columbia and with external partners, including continued expansion of the School's International Dual Degree Programs
  • Continue to be the preeminent destination for veterans seeking to earn their bachelor's degree
  • Position the Center for Veteran Transition and Integration to be the leading institution in higher education dedicated to ensuring the successful transition of service members and veterans to civilian life
  • Create an alumni network and community that provides opportunities for our students, families, and alumni to network, stay engaged with GS, and foster positive student and alumni outcomes
  • Provide GS with the platform to significantly increase fundraising that will more fully endow GS financial aid, provide more scholarship support for GS students, and allow for innovative educational initiatives and support programs
  • Build programs that embody the ways in which GS’s mission is, at its essence, a mission for social justice/just societies
  • The Postbac Premed Program is the oldest and largest postbaccalaureate premedical program in the United States
  • Continue to develop and grow best-in-class academic student support services and opportunities to engage in research and programming that are uniquely designed to meet the needs of our nontraditional students
  • Focus on community-building, mental health support, and the reduction of student financial distress
  • Continue to build and develop world-class post-graduation planning resources, empowering GS graduates to access the best graduate education and professional opportunities
  • Increase the School’s visibility and University’s exposure as the leader in educating nontraditional students
  • Expand our presence in national and international media

While the term "General Studies" has an important connection to the School's history and Studium Generale, it is essential to have a name that not only reflects the School's past, but embraces its future